By Starrla Cray
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Eric “Gus” Gustafson of Lester Prairie isn’t afraid of a few risks when shooting photos, and it’s paying off.
“One of my favorite things to do is night photography,” Gustafson said. A photo he took just before dawn, depicting a moon “resting” on a post just west of Lester Prairie, was recently featured in the Hamburg Hunting & Fishing Club 2015 calendar.
Gustafson’s skills aren’t limited to rural landscapes, and he is equally comfortable photographing sports, wildlife, concerts, bridges, portraits, and anything else that catches his eye.
As a commercial printer who works night shifts in Chanhassen, Gustafson is used to being awake in the dark, quiet hours. He often walks through Minneapolis at night, capturing the beauty of the city.
“I’ve stood in the middle of the street at 5 a.m. doing photography,” he said.
Call it a night
Sometimes, night photography is an adventure like this past spring, when Gustafson was on a bridge overlooking the Mississippi River.
“I heard some plastic rustling behind me, and this guy jumps up from underneath the plastic,” Gustafson recalled. “He said, ‘I really don’t like visitors.’”
Fortunately, Gustafson was able to assure him he would just take a couple of photos and be on his way.
Shooting photography in the country can also be a bit risky at night. At his northern Minnesota cabin in Big Falls, Gustafson said one needs to watch out for timberwolves.
“I’ll be out in the middle of a field in the dark, and hear one howling,” he said. “The hair on your neck just stands up.
Don’t look down
Shooting in the daytime allows Gustafson to see what’s going on around him better, but there are times when he’d rather not look.
In May, for instance, when the former hotel building in Lester Prairie was demolished in a controlled burn, the Lester Prairie Fire Department asked Gustafson if he’d be interested in doing some aerial photography.
“They put this harness on me, and asked if I’m afraid of heights,” Gustafson recalled.
In a boom truck several stories off the ground, Gustafson said he looked down a couple times, which was definitely “uncomfortable.”
“It was windy that day,” he added.
The experience was well worth it, though, and Gustafson was able to capture a unique perspective of the fire, and an aerial shot of the town.
“I like to capture the moment,” Gustafson said.
At sporting events, timing is critical. Three times, he’s captured the basketball sailing through the net as players scored their 1,000th point.
With his new camera, his response time will be even faster. Currently, his go-to camera is a Canon T3i, but he recently ordered a new Canon 7D Mark II with the ability to shoot 10 frames per second.
Back when his son, who graduated from Lester Prairie High School in 2008, was in sports, Gustafson had been using a point-and-shoot camera. His equipment has been advancing since then, and he has a variety of lenses to shoot a range of subjects.
“I’ve gotten more serious about it in the last three years, but I’ve always taken photos,” he said.
A few of Gustafson’s coworkers also share his hobby, and they enjoy shooting together and giving each other ideas.
“I like documenting things for my family,” Gustafson said. “Since I’m a printer, I like to work with the editing part of it, too.”
Gustafson has done engagement and senior portraits, and plans to do wedding photography, as well.
“It’s fun watching someone light up when I give them their photo,” Gustafson said. “I hope to create some joy for people.”
To see Gustafson's portfolio, go to www.photogussy.com.